Another one of those got-nothing-done days; I’ve liked getting more hours at work the past couple of weeks, but I hate having to leave some of my more ambitious blog post ideas in my head. Anything that gets stuck in my head too long either ends up getting lost, or getting weird.
(Though a disturbingly large portion of you don’t seem to mind the weird, for which I am grateful.)
Anyhow, since I’m short on time, again, I’ll spotlight another relatively obscure (yet significant) variation from my fabulous herd: the original version of the Classic Quarter Horse Family, ca. 1974.
There are a number of small details that make the original versions stand out from the later releases. The color on all three molds is softer and less "bright" compared to later versions, with the Foal verging on Buckskin. Both the Mare and Foal feature dark tan or "natural" colored hooves, that were changed to gray later in the run.
The Mare also has what I like to call "black to the belly" points: instead of blending the black points on the legs into the base color, the legs are solid black all the way up to the barrel - and sometimes, then some. It’s a peculiarity not uncommon on Bay paint jobs from the early to mid-1970s; I’ve seen it on the Bay Cantering Welshies and the Mahogany Bay Proud Arabians, too.
The earliest Stallions also do not have the "copyright horseshoe" mold mark - although, oddly, the Mares always did; I have a couple of Test Color mares I believe were Preproduction pieces, and they both have it. The Foal never had it in the first place.
The most obvious difference between the earliest Classic Quarter Horses and the later ones, of course, are the small stars on all of their foreheads:
The stars are a charming little detail, but it’s pretty easy to see why it got eliminated early on: because they were so darn little. The painters probably found them to be a nuisance, and the vast majority of their customers at the time - nonhobbyists, mostly - wouldn’t have noticed them one way or another.
The Star-faced Classic Quarter Horses are definitely not common; I see a handful of them a year, at most, which leads me to believe that this variation was extremely short-lived - to the first few months of 1974, perhaps. The gray-hooved versions were featured on the 1975 Dealer’s Catalog and Collector’s Manual, though the Stallion (but not the Mare or Foal!) does have a star.
In spite of their rarity, however, there’s not a huge demand for them. A lot of new hobbyists that didn’t grow up with the Hagen-Renaker "Love" molds just aren’t all that into them, or can’t see past the rougher seams and less sophisticated paint jobs of the era. The absence of the molds from the Breyer line, due to legal reasons, doesn’t help matters either.
Out of sight, out of mind.